Anyone who uses LinkedIn, the social network for professionals with 8 million members in Australia and New Zealand according to its website, will be familiar with the concept of second and third degree connections.
The power of a site such as LinkedIn is that as well as direct relationships with the people you have connected with yourself, you have indirect relationships with their connections (and even their connections’ connections).
This network effect gives you an opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands of people just through your first and second degree connections. More than 25 per cent of LinkedIn users have at least 500 connections so you don’t need to be the world’s greatest network to access a potentially huge pool of fellow professionals.
The network effect of content ideas
But network effects aren’t just there to help find you a new job or introduce you to someone you can sell to on LinkedIn. The same principal can apply to creating compelling content for your website, blog, social media and email campaigns.
A common mistake brands make when getting into content marketing is limiting themselves to blogging, tweeting and posting about only the topics that directly relate to what they do.
In some cases, brands will fill their blog and social media pages with content about their products and services, which not only risks turning off users but also places an unnecessary restriction on the amount of content they can produce.
Brands that really get content marketing are much more adventurous, branching out to the topics, themes and stories that their target audience cares about, even if they don’t get the chance to plug their latest special offer.
Content marketing should be about providing helpful and useful information to existing and potential customers, with aim of building long-term relationships.
Your content can absolutely achieve quick conversions, pulling a user in from search or social media and getting a sale or a sign-up right there and then. But the big wins for content marketing come when you introduce your brand to people and then hold their interest until they’re ready to buy something you sell.
Applying the network effect to your topic selection is a great tool for improving your chances of achieving this goal. As well as the stories that relate directly to what you do you can also explore the second and third degree connecting topics.
In some cases, you can link these topics back to a core theme or even a particular product or service with some editorial creativity. But in other cases you can just offer your audience something valuable and interesting to help that nurturing process.
Why brands need more content
The network effect is a great way to generate more original ideas for your content marketing and brands are going to need all the help they can get.
Competition is getting a lot tougher. A few years ago just doing any kind of content creation was enough to get an edge in most verticals, but now even very small businesses or companies in industries that once ignored digital entirely are investing in content marketing.
What that means is that moving the needle in search or creating enough content to maintain a presence across email and various social platforms requires an investment of time and resources to create not just good quality content but enough of it.
The way social media is changing for content marketers is creating additional pressure. Facebook, LinkedIn and even Twitter are re-positioning themselves as places to publish unique content rather than just somewhere to promote content you created somewhere else.
Whereas previously you might have created content for your blog and then push out the link to your social media pages, in the future, to get real traction you might need to create something fresh for each of those channels.